Flowers For My Grandmothers

I am fortunate that I still have both of my Grandmothers.  I live across the US from them, but am always thinking of them.  One modeled cooking and canning, painting and puzzles, and patience.  The other modeled strong work ethics, planning, determination, and success juggling home and career.  Elisa Pulliam (2016) stated that “the truth is we all have something of value that’s worth imparting on someone else, regardless of age” (p. 61).  Both of them have always loved flowers and had both flower and vegetable gardens.  Over the past few weeks I’ve travelled throughout the state of New Mexico for work.  I’ve been collecting flower pictures for them…

 

 

Pulliam, E. (2016).  Impact together.  Biblical mentoring simplified.  Elisa Pulliam and Authentic Life LLC.

 

 

Working in Western New Mexico

Today I started in Albuquerque and traveled to Grants, NM and then to Farmington.  I took a slightly different route this time after leaving Grants.  Instead of going through Thoreau to Crownpoint, this time I went through San Mateo to Crownpoint.  This route led to astounding views and fun-to-drive twists and turns.  Unfortunately I need a better camera to really capture all the layers and depths of the mesas and rock formations.  Perhaps next time!  Most of this land is part of the Navajo Nation.  I saw fat cattle and horses, sheep, and traditional and modern hogans.  This route took me near Chaco Canyon and through part of the Bisti Badlands.  I’ll go back one day when I’m not on work time.  Here are some of the pictures I was able to take this time:

City of Rocks, New Mexico

After a trip to NMSU and Las Cruces, NM, my husband and I took the scenic route back to Albuquerque.  We went through Deming, Bayard, and the Black Range in the Gila National Forest.  It took us forever to get home, but we had a wonderful time.

would-you-stay-in-that-tent

Would You Stay In That Tent?!

I had never even heard of the City of Rocks State Park outside of Deming, NM.  New Mexico is a geologist’s dream.  I am constantly amazed by the mountains and volcanoes here.  Taken from a pamphlet produced by the City of Rocks Visitors’ Center:

The rocks forming the City of Rocks were produced by a very large volcanic eruption that occurred 34.9 million years ago.  The violent eruption of volcanic pumice, ash, and hot gas in an eruption 1000 times greater than the May 18, 1980 Mount Saint Helens eruption would have taken months to years to complete.  The magma that produced the eruption was probably located between 3.7 and 9.3 miles below the earth’s surface.  From vents in the earth’s surface, large amounts of volcanic material would erupt very quickly.  This material would move as a large, hot, turbulent cloud, traveling as far as 125 miles from the vent and deposit volcanic material in its path.

Amazing!  My husband and I had fun seeing shapes in the formations.  See if you agree, or comment if you see something different!

On Friendship

On Friendship

I don’t have many friends.  At least not in the traditional sense of the word.  I like to be at home with my husband, I travel for work, and I’m busy with school.  Many say it’s important to get out and interact with people.  But what if that’s not what I want to do?  I don’t like bright, flashing lights.  I don’t like crowds.  I don’t like lots of noise.  I can reach outside my limits, but I’m not going to push myself and be miserable.  I have two friends I actually meet face-to-face, and even they often forgive me for backing out.

I have lots of friends.  Here it comes….online!  I’m happy with this.  A recent book I read, Trust Agents (see my book reviews) is listed under business/marketing, but it is a read for good human connections, also.  Brogan & Smith ( 2010) discuss the level of transparency people are able to have online.  When posting on my school discussion board, Facebook, or even on here, it is much easier to get my thoughts out than it would be face-to-face.  Although there are exceptions, among internet friends people are more willing to open up.  I look forward to getting online in the evenings to see who reached out to me during the day.  I am able to share pictures and videos and parenting sayings/tips with coworkers that I wouldn’t share from work.  I am able to connect with friends I’ve lost touch with.  I am able to complain to a classmate and ask for clarification/encouragement about an assignment (one of these days, we’re going to meet).  I have someone in South Africa praying for me in our Christian mentoring group.  I am following a student from Australia and watching him meet his goals.  I send pictures and messages to my kids, now that they’ve grown up and left the house.  I can be open and honest with these people.

How interesting that the people I don’t see face-to-face everyday are the ones that are supportive and nonjudgmental.  I wonder what we can all learn from that!

Thank you, friends!

~Emily

Brogan & Smith. (2010).  Trust Agents. Using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust.  Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons.

Braiding My Hair Changed My Life (Well, Kinda)

My hair has grown quite long. I was braiding it this morning for the first time in a long time. I’ve always braided it the same way but soon found that my arms were not long enough. So I leaned over to braid my hair upside down. But then I noticed that I proceeded to unbraid my hair! That was not expected! So I tried a different way to finish my braid.

This was a simple analogy but it made me start thinking about change. I personally don’t handle change very well unless I know why and how. It has been commented on that I derive pleasure from implementing action plans for forced improvements. But I do not see action plans that way. When introduced correctly action plans do not have to be a purely punitive endeavor. I enjoy the action planning process because it can be used as group decision making. It holds each player accountable, and, most of all, it tracks the changes and successes while striving for a goal. Too often we work hard but do not realize exactly how much we do. Action plans outline all the details and evidence toward hard work. After completing an action plan with a group, I’ve received many thank-you’s for the process and can see the boost in self-confidence of the group. (This certainly was not the reaction at the beginning of the change process!)

Changes don’t always work. I changed how I was braiding my hair to better reach it and ended up un-braiding it. I did not anticipate that! Learning from unsuccessful attempts to change leads to thinking of new ways to complete a project – in short, the creative process. This leads to new understandings of how things work and new thought processes. I certainly did not think that messing up my braid this morning would lead me to writing about change!

In Mezirow’s (1991) Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning, Popper explained that “we learn in order to change the structure of our expectations rather than to fill in gaps in knowledge. New knowledge resulting from problem solving is a correction rather than an extension of old knowledge” (p. 39). Change our expectations. You would think we should change the situation. I expected to turn my head upside down and continue my braid. That did not work. Therefore, I problem-solved a new way to braid my hair, thus correcting my expectations.

This was a pretty thought-out analogy. Imagine all the situations we encounter each day in which we make changes and change our expectations. We usually do it automatically, without thought. Consider the positive transformations we are capable of when we consciously change our expectations.

~Emily Aragon

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

When Ethics Hurt You

I’m home, sick, today.  Probably not a good thing since it gives my mind too much time to reflect.  Today I have been thinking about my current class – or rather the class I just withdrew from.  Not only did the events leading up to my withdrawing affect me, but also the withdrawing itself.  I felt like I failed myself.  At this point I don’t know if I withdrew so I didn’t have to fight, or if I withdrew to stand up for myself.  Either way, I think I needed a brief academic break from institutionalized learning.ethics

Background:  In an earlier post I was making fun of leaders leading leaders.  I was only mildly irritated at that time.  In order to understand the leadership process, we are often assigned collaborative group projects to work on.  Of course, the operative word is collaborative.  I had been contacting my colleagues for over a week, with no response.  I finally contacted the professor.  Again, no response.  I finally contacted my group and the professor and stated that unless otherwise advised, I would complete the project on my own, with a rationale for my decision.  The next day, the day before the project was due, the professor and both colleagues responded.  The professor gave me the encouraging words of….work it out.  One of my colleagues wanted me to submit my work for all of us.  After 22 years of school (gasp!), you’d think people would be more mature – especially going into leadership!  Yet, once again, I’m the one standing up for something, but they are still in the class.  Once again, I am hurting myself.

So, why am I so stubborn to fight for this?  Why do I feel compelled to do the right thing?  Sometimes I tire myself out.  It would be so easy to be like others and take the easy path.  But for some reason I can’t do that.  It’s just not in me.  I tire myself, but I can sleep at night.  Parker Palmer (2007) described a similar emotion:  “When I violate myself, I invariably end up violating the people I work with.  How many teachers inflict their own pain on their students, the pain that comes from doing what never was, or no longer is, their true work”?  He is talking about the true calling of teaching, but it can also mean the true calling of truthfulness to yourself and others.

Perhaps one day I’ll understand why some people are the way they are – but do I really want to know?

Thanks for listening!

~Emily Aragon

 

Palmer, P. (2007).  The courage to teach.  Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life (10th ed). San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.

 

The Importance of Modeling Good Behaviors

In early childhood home visiting we believe in the power of modeling good behaviors.  We model healthy habits, choices, and language for the parents and model good manners and behaviors for the young children.  Our home visiting program follows what is called the “platinum rule” (Jaree Pawl in Parlakian, 2001).  The way I treat the home visitors mirrors how the home visitors should treat the parents, which mirrors how the parents should treat their children.  This trickle down effect can be an awesome responsibility and is one I take seriously.  When I go out, I try to act like one of my students or colleagues could be watching me.

It is amazing how quickly children mimic the behaviors of those they watch.  My husband and I went out to eat today and a young family sat in the booth ahead of us.  They had a child approximately 2 years old and a child approximately 1 month old.  The baby was happily nursing (kudos to the mom!) and the young dad talked to both the mom and the toddler.  The toddler was very well behaved…until he watched my husband!  My husband loves children and was waving to the child and making faces at him to get him to laugh.  The toddler kept point up, so of course we looked up, too.  We could not figure out what he was pointing to, so my husband pointed to the light suspended above the table and gently pushed it.  At that point, their food came and the toddler turned around.  My husband was just saying that he shouldn’t have pushed the light, when we saw the toddler copy him and try to push their light – it was only a matter of a couple of minutes!  I give a lot of credit to the young dad for not fussing at the toddler, but instead redirected him to his food.  My husband felt bad and afterward just waved to the toddler.

This shows how important it is to model good behaviors and manners when around young children.  This is our chance to help shape the future.

~Emily Aragon

Parlakian, R. (2001). Look, listen, and learn:  Reflective supervision and relationship-based work.  Washington, DC:  Zero to Three.

 

God Bless America

Thank you.  That is all that can be said.

Thank you to the firemen, the policemen, the military, the emergency personnel, the ferry drivers, all the workers, and the volunteers who pulled together on this day 15 years ago.

Peace and blessings to the survivors and the families of those who survived, and those who did not.

May God always bless and protect America.

It’s State Fair Time!

The New Mexico State Fair started this week.  The smell of roasting chile is in the air, along with roasted corn, funnel cakes, and even fried Twinkies.  There is music, laughter, screams from the rides, and various sounds from the animals.

For those teachers fortunate enough to be near a state fair, this is the perfect opportunity to teach their students about the farm to table concept.  Many young children do not understand that milk comes from a cow or goat; wool, or cloth, comes from a sheep; and chicken nuggets come from a chicken.  Petting zoos and milking demonstrations are wonderful opportunities for children to learn about different animals and how they can help us. Deer at Petting Zoo.jpg

Especially for children growing up in cities, this may be the first, and only, opportunity to touch pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, and even a deer (as seen in this picture).  This was the first time I’d seen a fawn in a petting zoo!

Our state fair has a special area and days designated for school field trips.  Ronald McDonald’s Barn has a petting zoo and even pony rides. mcdonalds-barn

 

Be sure and bring water bottles for the kids and at least one adult for every 2 children.  This is one field trip that you will have no difficulty in getting parents to volunteer!  Preparing for the state fair provides so many opportunities for learning, from animals, to counting down the days, to even submitting art projects for the grade-level competitions.

Have a wonderful time at your state fair!

~Emily Aragon

Leaders Leading Leaders: A Lesson in Humility

I am working on my Doctorate in Transformational Leadership.  In my current class we are participating in weekly groups for collaborative assignments due each week.  It amuses me to observe the difficulties we have organizing the groups.  Having too many leaders leads to nowhere!  Reminiscent of how many leaders does it take to screw in a light bulb…..

We are placed into groups to remind us how it feels to be in a group.  We are placed into groups to reinforce the importance of teamwork and communication.  I often wonder if the professors are observing our behaviors.  In reality, though, do we really have to declare a group leader?  Why can’t we all work together, divide up our work, and combine it as a true group effort?  Are my colleagues truly understanding that it is not so much the product, but the process?

If all would just take a breath and step back, show a little vulnerability and humility, the assignment would be completed much quicker and easier – and with much less stress.  Leaders are given the opportunity to lead because they are honest and trustworthy.  Leaders cannot lead without followers.  Palmer (2007) reminds us that “authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts”.

antelope-looking-at-me-roswell-nmI was humbled twice today – once by a colleague, and once by an antelope.  My colleague very openly told me how glad she and her supervisor were that I was not changing jobs.  Her words and honesty really touched me.  And the antelope….along this stretch of highway to Roswell, NM, antelope are a pretty common sight.  This antelope was near the fence, so I pulled off the road to get a picture.  The antelope watched me get out of the car and ran off.  I stood there quietly and started taking pictures.  He then stopped, turned around, and watched me.  Then he came back to the fence.  How amazing that he trusted me!

I am thankful to the people that trust me to guide them and to learn with them.

 

Palmer, P. (2007).  The courage to teach.  Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.